Extending the life of an HVDC link in Canada

2013-02-25 - Upgrade of 40 year old converter station to enable enhanced grid reliability and efficiency

By ABB Communications

The existing Eel River HVDC station, originally built in 1972, will be upgraded by ABB
ABB will upgrade NB Power’s Eel River high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter station in Canada with the latest converter valves, state-of-the-art control and protection system (MACH2), direct current (DC) apparatus and cooling systems, replacing existing equipment that was originally installed in 1972. The upgraded station is expected to be operational in 2014.

Eel River northern New-Brunswick near Chaleur Bay
This facility provides a 350-MW bi-directional asynchronous interconnection between the New Brunswick and Québec power grids and was the first HVDC station to enable power exchange between the Québec Interconnection and the Eastern Interconnection.

The Eel River HVDC Converter Station was recognized as a technology milestone by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) in 2011, for being the world’s first commercial HVDC station to be equipped with solid state high-voltage-, high-current-silicon thyristors (solid-state semiconductor devices) based on fiber optics, an emerging technology at the time, replacing the previously used mercury-arc valve-based systems.

Many of the early HVDC links are now reaching an age where availability, reliability and efficiency can be improved through system upgrades. ABB is ideally positioned to support such efforts having taken responsibility for the engineering studies, installation, testing and commissioning of some 17 similar upgrade projects since 1990.

ABB pioneered HVDC technology almost 60 years ago and remains the world leader in this highly-efficient technology with over 70 HVDC projects around the world, providing a transmission capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts (MW).

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